Broad inquiry into bush health services welcomed
RURAL doctors have welcomed the announcement of a Senate inquiry into factors affecting health services in the bush, and the Rural Relocation Incentive Grant scheme in particular.
RDAA president Dr Paul Mara said rural GPs had been telling his association for months that the Australian Standard Geographical Classification – Remoteness Areas (ASGC-RA) scheme was hindering the supply of health professionals to the bush.
“The [ASGC-RA] scheme that determines the incentive payments received by doctors in rural towns has received widespread criticism from doctors working in small communities,” Dr Mara said.
“Our members have been advising us of the adverse effect it is having on their medical practices, and RDAA has been calling for a review of the… system since it was first mooted several years ago.”
The inquiry will examine factors affecting the supply and distribution of health services and medical professionals in rural areas, factors limiting that supply and the effect of the introduction of Medicare Locals on the provision of medical services in rural areas.
The terms of reference also include the current incentive programs for recruitment and retention of doctors and dentists, particularly in smaller rural communities, whether the application of the ASGC-RA scheme is appropriate and any other related matters.
Nationals senator Fiona Nash told MO it had become “bloody obvious” the government’s use of the system had created problems for small rural towns.
Dr Mara said he was encouraged to see that the terms of reference for the inquiry were broader than just the ASGC-RA.